When we hear the words “I had a dream,” many of us will quickly think of the history-making speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I wrote that title to get your attention, I’ll admit. But it is true. I did have a dream last night and I remembered it as soon as I woke up and opened my eyes this morning.
It was a terrible dream. No, it was a nightmare. It was one of those nightmares that causes a great sense of relief when you wake up and realize it was all a dream.
In last night’s nightmare, I almost drank again. I was terribly upset about something, though I’m not sure what. I was at a bar, reaching for a drink, and threatening to throw away my years of sobriety. My wife was there, begging me not to do it. What is interesting is that, even in the nightmare, I never actually drank. I woke up before I ever did and was relieved to learn that it was all a dream.
“Using dreams” are normal for many of us in long-term recovery, though fortunately I only have them once or twice a year.
Nightmares can be important signals for us. For me, it is a signal that I should attend a 12-step meeting, which I did this evening. All will be okay.
While I do not have any scientific training on the subject of addiction, I do know a great deal about it through my own experiences. It seems to lurk in the addict’s subconscious and can come out and bite you when you are least expecting.
Addiction is a sneaky, cunning disease.
I have been sober for close to 5 years now and I still have nightmares like this. I suspect that I always will. That’s okay because I have a recovery program strong enough to withstand any challenge life may throw at me. I don’t have to drink, no matter what.
There are many people in my profession who are secretly dying from the disease of addiction. There is still a stigma associated with addiction, especially for those working in licensed professions.
Anyone in recovery has to make up their own mind whether to remain anonymous or to be public about their addiction and recovery. That is a very personal decision and I respect everyone who chooses to keep their recovery story anonymous.
I made the personal decision to be public about my recovery story so I may do my small part in ending the stigma of addiction.
Does being a professional somehow make me perfect? Even though we know how ridiculous that question is, so many of us try to put up a façade of perfection, with professional profiles listing our accolades and pictures of our smiling families on Facebook.
Here’s the big admission: I am a flawed human being like everyone else and I do not mind admitting it on this blog. I am doing the best I can, putting one foot in front of the other, and trying to improve every day.
Another reason I decided to be public and write about this personal subject on this blog is because of the chance that someone who needs it may read it. If just one suffering soul reads this blog and realizes that they are not alone, that they too can find recovery and fulfill their potential, it will have all been worth it.
I hope I have a long run on this planet but one of the greatest virtues of written words is that they carry on long after we have left this earth. In this case, these words could even help a struggling addict after my time here is done. I will consider this a proud part of my legacy.
Ryan C. Torrens, Esq.
Consumer litigation attorney